Tuesday, July 12, 2016

VIEW from the BRIDGE
By Muncie

I spent part of last weekend at the Old Fort Benton mostly watching the archeology dig. Jay, as he likes to be called, is the archaeologist from Malmstrom Airforce Base who is a very interesting person.  He moved around so fast I could hardly keep up watching him here, there, and everywhere. He constantly checked everyone’s work as it should have been because that is why he was hired.

By the time most of the volunteers arrived at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, J and Sharalee Smith had everything ready to go. The orange fence was in place and the squares were marked with orange paint. We were to be looking for the foundation of the SW blockhouse in preparation for the big dig next month.

Besides J, the other archaeologist was Hank Armstrong. There were 8 “Want-a-be- Archaeologists.” That included 2 youngsters who volunteered. They were all busy scrapping away by the time I arrived. I spent the morning changing letters on a board that was placed by each area dug so a picture could be taken. There were very specific reports to be made out.

There were “Wan-a- Be-s” lying on the ground to be closer to their work. There were some sitting cross legged. (I would give my most prized possession if I could do that.) There were people screening.  Everyone seemed to be taking turns at the different kinds of work.

The day was so gorgeous but became quite warm as the sun worked its way over the Old Fort and was full on the dig site. We broke for lunch at noon and the next few hours I just sat in the shade and watched everyone else work. No one seemed to mind that I did that. I left at 2:15 which was 45 minutes before quitting time but no one seemed to mind that either. It became a bit too warm for me.

I was back on Sunday morning closer to 8:00 a.m. and actually did some screening. It was the top 2 inches that had grass in it. It was not as easy as when I screened 21 years ago on the Missouri Levee for the first dig in 1995. (I was a lot younger 21 years ago and stronger.)

I cannot believe that it was 1995 when the last dig was begun. We’ve come a long way Baby but actually not far enough. There is still a lot to be done before the reconstruction of the original Old Fort will be finished. The River and Plains Fort Committee doesn’t actually know when the Blockhouse will be completed. It may be 2 or 3 years.

I do not know exactly what results this dig had and we won’t know until the reports have been studied. I did not find anything in my screening except a piece of glass. I do know that Patty found a trade bead. That excited all of us. (This was unlike the first digs when we found 70,000 trade beads.)

I had to leave at noon on Sunday as I had a family commitment. I wonder if the team was rained out.  What a turn the weather took from yesterday and as I do this column Sunday evening, it is still raining.

The next archaeological dig will be August 13th through the 21st. Make plans now to join us for a few days or just a few hours that you can spare.

You will not get your name in the paper or get any kudos for your time. You will however, have the satisfaction of knowing that you are a part of history. You will know that you are doing something for your community. You will know that you are paying back something of what you have been given. You will know that you are bringing the past into the future and our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren’s futures.

An old Native American saying is, “If you do not know where you came from, you cannot know where you are going.”

The news about recycling centers no longer accepting plastic bottles is so distressing to me. So now we are supposed to just dump them in the garbage because it is cost prohibitive to recycle them. They can go to the landfill. What are we thinking people? Are we that lazy, when we could recycle the bottles, that only 27% of the bottles were recycled?

We have the technology to go to the moon and we cannot figure out what to do with plastic bottles? I know the answer! We are going to do landfills on the moon. That may work

Did you read the figures on how many plastic bottles are used every hour in the United States? What can we do when every product comes in bottles especially water. They are so convenient and we are used to using them. Did you do everything you could about recycling them?

I was so happy when the Recycling Volunteers would take the plastic bottles. I used to take them to Great Falls to dispose of them. I am sure you know what happened in the Falls with the recycling program.

I get 5 gal. bottles of spring water from Lewistown for home use.  I purchase the small bottles to always carry with me. From now on I am going to use the water bottles that I have in the cupboard and fill it from the 5 gallon bottle. In some small way filling my own bottles will lessen my use of plastic bottles. What can you think of to protect our environment? Are you one of the 27% that recycled plastic or one of the 73% who did not?

I have a friend who is making a trip down the river and said that he will watch carefully for the Memorial Wreath. It is easier to find something when you know what you are looking for.

I was delighted to read Bethany’s story about the people who found the wreath. I thought that they called the River Press but no…they made a trip to the office. Adventurous people fascinate me because they are JUST DO IT people.

I just finished “When the Meadowland Sings,” on the digital machine from Talking Books. It is the story about a Montana farming family in the early days and the woman who wrote it was born in Fort Benton.

What I wanted to tell you about was the digital player. I have always used my little cassette player that plays Talking Books 4 sided cassette tapes and I used it when I was walking. I can still get cassette tapes but for Friends of the Library we are going to read “Boys in a Boat.” Since it is a recent book, it is only on digital.

I love the digital player although it is larger and a little heavy for walking. There is a great volume button, a button to make the voice go faster or slower, and the best button is the sleep one. When I push sleep the machine plays for 15 minutes and then shuts itself off. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Don’t wait to take advantage of this opportunity. You do not have to call me for the number. Just call information and ask for Talking Books in Helena.

Congratulations Wendy. I’ll bet you could write a book with the adventures that you have experienced in the last 40 years. I would like to hear you’re most exciting, you’re funniest, and your very favorite story.

The first Farmers Market was on the Levee last Thursday. It was a beautiful day and sitting there on what I call the Shep Levee, we enjoyed a very pleasant hour.
Son Randy had a table and was selling Chouteau County Performing Arts tickets. (It will be here before you know it.) I used one of the memorial tables to set up a quilt rack and draped one of the Summer Celebration Quilts over it.

I did quite well by selling two books of raffle tickets. Randy was happy with his ticket sales. Susanna ran out of her egg rolls, and I bought the last two muffins that the Arnst family had. (I should have hit their tables earlier.) I saw many people going by with leaves of beets sticking out of their packages. I think there were many veggie dinners that evening and good for you.

By the way, Randy and I will be there next week with our tickets. See you there.

You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.